Designing buildings and communities in a way that protects people's health is possible when the right people work together, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report is from CDC's Healthy Community Design Initiative expert workshop [PDF - 394 KB], held in Atlanta in September 2009. The workshop convened experts from academia, architecture, building, development, government, planning, and public health to consider the effect that community design has on health. The report [PDF - 394 KB] recommends action steps to advance healthy community design principles. Scientists and developers who met at the workshop believe that building neighborhoods and buildings to enhance physical activity, respiratory health, mental health, water quality and social capital can lead to reduced asthma, diabetes, and obesity, and improve residents' quality of life.
"We recognized that a common concern over health exists, but common language among disciplines is lacking," said Dr. Andrew Dannenberg, who leads CDC's Healthy Community Design Initiative. "And, although we share the same concerns about health, different disciplines (were) not working together to address them."
In addition to convening the Healthy Community Design Initiative workshop, CDC participates in other efforts to support a healthy built environment. For example, CDC worked closely with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) on CNU's May 2010 conference, "New Urbanism: Rx for Healthy Places," held in Atlanta. Health professionals, planners, developers, and policy makers at every level discussed how to ensure that health is considered in code reform, transportation, neighborhood design, and public space initiatives.
Dr. Dannenberg said these efforts will lead to better communication and healthier planning practices. "CDC is working to foster collaboration and help establish a practice of considering health effects when making land use, transportation planning, and other community design decisions," he said.
For more information, visit these key resources:
- CDC's Healthy Places
- Healthy Community Design fact sheet [PDF - 184 KB]
- LEED-ND and Healthy Neighborhoods [PDF - 974 KB]
- Use of Health Impact Assessment in the U.S.: 27 Case Studies [PDF - 411 KB]
- Built Environment + Public Health: Course Curriculum
- Influencing the Built Environment in Your Community [PDF - 460 KB]
- Investment in Safe Routes to School Projects
- Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Project, Thunderhead Alliance
- Walking to Public Transit: Steps to Help Meet Physical Activity Recommendations [PDF - 138 KB]
- Urban Sprawl and Public Health [PDF - 492 KB]
- CDC Transportation Recommendations
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